Fit For the Task

We often look to professional athletes and sporting heroes for motivation in our careers but we can also glean valuable management insight from the way sporting teams are trained for peak performance. Tony Rowe blows the whistle on business owners who are not investing in team training.

Training, fitness and conditioning are favourite topics of mine! It’s not that I’m an athlete and I’m not sure that I ever really was. However, I have had a long interest in being “fit for the task.”

That sometimes means that I get a bit pedantic about making sure things are done correctly. I like to make sure tasks are performed by the people who have been skilled to perform the task. I’m also a firm believer in doing what can be done to ensure those who do not possess a particular skill have the opportunity to acquire it, before they are given rein to perform the task.

The owners of a professional sporting team make sure their athletes have all the skill development training that it is possible for them to get. The athletes are paid handsomely and the owners, management and supporters expect them to perform at their peak, to use the skills for which they have been employed – all the time.

The owners expect a return on their investment. They also ensure every opportunity is given to their team to enhance their skills, to undertake additional training wherever possible, to increase the likelihood of, and the opportunity for, success. And, more often than not, they protect that investment by paying for additional skill acquisition opportunities for their team. Repetitive peak performance is the expectation of any professional sporting team.

Owners and management of property businesses should not expect any less than peak performance from their teams. The team members are professionals. They are skilled at various levels and rewarded according to their skill level.

Owners and management of property businesses, like their counterparts in sport, expect (rightly) a return on their investment in their professional team members. Therefore they also have a responsibility to provide their teams with every opportunity to enhance and refine their skills. That’s something that isn’t as common in the industry as it could be.

The expectation from some agency owners is that the individuals need to undertake their own skill development, in their own time, and at their own cost. Some have an attitude that if team members want to remain part of the team, then they have to keep up or get out – that maintaining a skill level is a cost on the individual.

Owners and managers who want their teams to perform at their peak should be looking to provide opportunities for their team to function at optimal levels. If the team is to perform their assigned functions to the standard required, management has an obligation to ensure members have (or get the chance to develop) the skills needed to achieve the desired goal.

It isn’t enough to expect team members to acquire the skills they believe they will need. They need to have direction – as any professional needs coaching and skill refinement. The team leader is the one who should be providing that direction.

From the point of induction, it is a good business operation that encourages (and supports) the expansion of knowledge and skill development of the staff. The focus is on ensuring the processes of the particular organisation are being promoted in a professional, customer-focused manner, that the tasks associated with that particular job are carried out in the most efficient and effective way available at the time, with the resources that are available.

The decision on particular training requirements for individuals and teams should be made, ultimately, by the business owner. The boss needs to make sure the team has the required skills to perform the tasks necessary to achieve the results for a profitable business operation.

Team training and selection decisions are the responsibility of the coach and managers in sporting teams. Business owners should adopt a similar approach and aim to have the best team available every time. Victory depends on those wise decisions!

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Tony Rowe

Tony Rowe is the CEO of TT Rowe and Co, a compliance, education and training consultancy providing specialist advice to the property industry in Australia.